Saturday, 2 June 2012

Some features of Inuktitut (part viii)

I spoke earlier in this blog about the demonstrative class in Inuktitut, and how it has the only "pre-" fix ([ta-]) in existence in Inuktitut.

taanna - 'that one' - is analysed as ta+una (-emically) = 'thine+this'

taika - 'there it (goes)' - is analysed as ta+ikka = 'thine+there'

and so on... I think Louis-Jacques Dorais' 'thine' for ta- is a stroke of brilliance.

I've been thinking about this (largely out of guilt that I couldn't submit something to a noble request by LJD for a mutual friend who has passed on) and it occurs to me that we may be looking at the problem from a wrong perspective. For instance, one may also analyse further the syntactical structure and try and account for the apparent "prefix". I suggest this line of reasoning:

Ø+ta una, where:
Ø = the obligatory grammatical subject slot;
[-ta] = third person possessive in relation to another third person;
una = this

The fusion of (originally) possessive marker to the following demonstrative morpheme [una]  phonologically creates, Ø+taanna

The apparently empty subject slot in the construct creates the imppression of a "prefix" but the same phenomenon is also recreate-able in such constructs as:

Ø+annirrannut isirit - '(you) into my house, enter'
subject object verbal imperative

where the second person marker ('you') is implicit though (by definition and necessity) not absent in the phrase, strictly speaking.

I think this may be a psychological breakthrough: looking at the problem from a syntactical perspective, we realize that the 'you' is implicit while its possessive marker is residually explicit
[-ta] and this then joins with and affects the following demonstrative morpheme.

The once explicit uniqueness of the demonstrative, in relation to its phonological assimilation to the presence of the possessive in the subject slot [-ta], on the one hand and, a case ending on the other, makes the morpho-phonological assimilation two way: to the rear,[-ta]; and, to the front, case endings, if they are present - to, from, through, etc. These make the phonological rules governing the demonstratives seem overtly complex and intractible, when the assimiliation processes may, in fact, be sequential while remaining particular to a given case ending from the other end.


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